The way government funding for schools is calculated and distributed is complex, and has been for some time.
The Australian Government recently won parliamentary support for a new federal schools funding model which irons out inconsistencies in the current funding arrangements to create a level playing field.
These changes aim to see students with similar needs receive the same level of federal government support, regardless of what state they live in.
The changes are enshrined in the Australian Education Amendment Act 2017 which was passed by Federal Parliament, with amendments, on 23 June 2017.
When school funding is raised as a topic of discussion or debate, there are a few key points of note for parents with children in independent schools:
Parents are the single biggest financial contributors to independent schools
On average, the tuition fees parents pay to independent schools from their after-tax incomes represent the single largest financial contribution to the operating expenses of an independent school (50 percent). The remaining 50 percent is provided by the Australian Government (35 percent) and State Government (15 percent). These proportions vary from school to school depending on their assessed need.
In contrast state schools are 100 percent government funded, with the State Government providing the bulk of their funds.
When it comes to capital funding, independent school parents, on average, contribute the lion’s share (75 percent), with independent schools receiving only a small proportion of government funding to support the construction of new buildings, classrooms and maintain school infrastructure.
Infrastructure and building maintenance in state schools is 100 percent funded by government.
Independent school students receive less public funding than state school students
On average, independent school students receive much less recurrent government funding than state school students.
In Queensland, the State Government contributes the bulk of its education budget to state schools with a smaller proportion provided to independent and Catholic schools.
To balance this, the Australian Government provides a higher per student contribution to independent and Catholic schools.
Independent schools save taxpayers billions of dollars every year
If every Queensland independent school child took up a place at a state school the Australian and Queensland Governments would have to find an extra $1 billion a year in operational and capital funding to educate and accommodate them.
Nationally, independent school families save taxpayers in the order of $4.3 billion each year. Not only do independent schools reduce the financial burden on governments and taxpayers by receiving a lower level of government funding, but they deliver a strong return on that investment with independent school students on average achieving higher academic outcomes.